LEMON LAVENDER SCONES

It’s another wintry day and, as with most everyone, I’m ready for spring.  Not, of course, that we’ve had a bad winter, but … I’m still ready for spring.  So, to brighten my mood, I am going to buy some bright, cheerful flowers and then make scones.  Not everyday scones, but fresh, fragrant Lemon Lavender Scones … and, I’m going to serve them with an indulgent honey butter.  A springtime treat!

These scones are not difficult to make at all.  Assemble all your ingredients and give them a go.

LEMON LAVENDER SCONES
Bake 400° .  Makes 8 to 12.  Bake for 15-20 minutes depending upon size.

2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons dried lavender, food grade
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze (optional):
4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon milk

In a large bowl or food processor (which I prefer), mix or pulse together all dried ingredients:  flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest and lavender.

Using your fingers or a fork, work butter into dry ingredients until just crumbly.  If using a food processor, pulse 8 or 9 times.

Whisk together egg, lemon juice and heavy cream and add it to the mixture.  With a fork, bring  together quickly.  Do not overmix or scones will be heavy.

Dump the mixture onto a lightly floured board.  It will be a bit crumbly.  Knead two or three times to bring the dough together.  Again, do not overwork the dough.

Shape into a round about 1/2″ thick.  Cut the desired number of scones you’d like … in the shapes you’d like.  Round.  Triangular.  Square.  It’s up to you.  I decided to be creative and cut mine  to resemble a flower.

Place the scones onto a parchment lined baking sheet.   Brush the tops lightly with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.  Refrigerate the scones for at least 1/2 hour.  This will ensure the butter gets cold and your scones will be light.  While the scones are refrigerated, preheat the oven to 400°.  Depending upon the size and thickness, bake anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes until baked through and lightly golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.  (Unfortunately, the angle of the photo doesn’t show how much they’ve risen.)  For confectioners’ glaze, mix together four tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon milk.  When the scones are cool, drizzle with confectioners’ glaze.
How do you like my scone flower?

I mixed up some honey butter*, but you can serve these light, fragrant and delicious scones with absolutely anything … from strawberry jam to lemon curd to clotted cream.

Be sure to put the kettle on and have your cuppa ready because you’re going to want to dive right into these … well, at least, I did!

*Honey Butter
Mix together one stick softened butter with two to three tablespoons honey.
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Peek Freans

How about “a nice-cuppa-tea-and-a-sit-down”?  It’s the perfect way to recharge when out for a day of sightseeing, or shopping, or just running errands.  The afternoon is winding down and you need to relax for a few moments, over a hot cuppa.  And, what do you need when you’re having that “sit-down”?  A biscuit or two, of course.

The marketing genius who decided that tea and biscuits should go together was James Peek.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the Peek Freans Company, once one of the biggest biscuit (cookie) companies in the world.  How did it start?  With ‘tea’, of course!

William Peek was born into a wealthy family from Devon.  In 1818 William decided to move to London and start a tea importing business, W. Peek and Company.  It became quite successful and within two years William’s two brothers, Richard and James, decided to join the firm.  The name of the company then became, Peek Brothers and Company.

Peek Bros Trademark — Camel Caravan. 1884. Peek House, 20 Eastcheap, London. These premises were the headquarters of Peek Bros & Co., dealers in tea, coffee and spices, built 1883 – 1885. (Ward-Jackson)

In 1824, James Peek married Elizabeth Masters and had 8 children.  As most fathers, James wanted his sons to join him in the family tea business.  But his two eldest sons were not at all interested in tea.  Ever-creative James, realized that a business which would complement “tea” might be perfect for them.  He suggested a biscuit business.  Of course, his sons were still just teenagers at this point, so now James needed someone to run his new biscuit business.

3rd U.S. Infantry eating hard tack.

James’ niece, Hanna, had recently married George Frean.  George was a miller and baker of “ship biscuits” or what was commonly called “hard tack”.  Hard tack is a simple, tasteless cracker made from flour, water and salt.  It is very inexpensive to make and can last for long periods of time, making it commonly used by the military.  James wrote to George, saying that he had set up a biscuit business for his sons, but because he was still managing the tea business, he wanted to know if George would manage the new biscuit business.  George agreed.  The business was set up with James and George as partners, and the factory opened in London in 1857.   The new partners registered their company as the Peek Frean Company.  Just as James had predicted, the business took off, but after three years, the sons wanted nothing more to do with it.

Now George needed help.  George wrote to his long-time school mate, John Carr of the Scottish biscuit company (perhaps you’ve heard of Carr Crackers and Biscuits).  Carr accepted the offer and came down from Scotland to join the company in 1860.  Throughout this time the Peek Frean Company was just producing those tasteless “ship biscuits”, but Carr was working on new ideas and new products.  In 1861, they introduced the Garibaldi biscuit, a thin oblong of biscuit dough with a filling of dried currants.  It’s still very popular in the U.K. as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Now it was time for a softer, sweeter biscuit with no “docker holes” (which kept the biscuit from rising during baking).  Carr named this new soft and crumbling, yet crisp biscuit, the Pearl Biscuit.  The Pearl Biscuit was revolutionary.  Everyone loved them.   In the meantime, an order from the French government came in for 460 tons of “hard tack” which was needed to help feed the armies during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.  Business was booming!

After the “Pearl”, came the “Marie”, then the “Chocolate Table”, “Pat-a-Cake”, the “Golden Puff” and then in 1910, the company introduced the first cream sandwich biscuit, now known as the “Bourbon” biscuit , a chocolate sandwich with a chocolate cream filling.  But did Peek Frean invent this biscuit?

Credit for the “Bourbon” biscuit, the “Custard Creme” and “Nice” biscuits go to Harold Trixie, not an employee of Peek Frean, but housemaster at the King Edward VI Boarding School in Nottinghamshire.  Harold’s father was a baker,  and created the “two biscuits sandwiched together with a creamy filling”.   Boarding schools at that time were notorious for underfeeding their students.  Remembering the French-inspired baked goods his father would make, Trixie used the same method, a soft filling between a harder outer shell, to make biscuits for his young male students.  Disguised as a demonstration of good etiquette, Trixie began hosting informal ‘afternoon tea’ sessions at the boy’s school, bringing in his own baked goods and biscuits.   Because of the extra sugar and fat provided by the biscuits, it was noticed that Harold Trixie’s students had begun to outperform their peers.  His chocolate creation was named the ‘Bourbon’ after the French noblemen’s House of Bourbon.

The Peek Frean Company began hearing about these unusual two-piece with a creamy filling cocoa biscuits.  They contacted the school to ask whether they could reproduce these interesting biscuits, for which they were willing to pay a fee.  When put in touch with Harold Trixie, they were told that the biscuits were free to whoever cared to bake them.  Peek Frean began producing Bourbons, crediting Trixie with his creation, and they became an immediate success.

Peek Frean’s mission was that their workforce should be healthy, comfortable and contented.  For over a hundred years Peek Frean’s focus was the community, with free medical and dental care for their over 4,000 workers.  In addition to its own fire brigade and post office, they founded a cricket club in 1868 and later musical and dramatic societies were set up. In 1918, they cut back worker’s hours, introduced a week’s paid holiday for everyone, a pension fund, and daily tea breaks.  This was a true family-run business which employed generations of families.  Sadly, the biscuit factory closed in 1989, but there’s hardly a Brit who doesn’t lovingly remember them.

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References:  Brighton Toy Museum, Cook’s Info, Wikipedia, Exploring Southwark, Rousdon Estate, Quora,

ZUCCHINI STREUSEL BREAD

If you check out my recipes page, you’ll find that I have quite a few “zucchini” recipes.  There’s a reason for that … some vegetables  I can grow easily, and zucchini is one of them.  I’ve picked the last of the summer’s crop of zucchini for this year, and, believe me, it was a bumper crop as usual.  I’m not quite sure which of my zucchini recipes I like the best.  They are all tried, true and delicous!   My suggestion, give them all a try and then let me know.

This quick bread is a “go to” and not as complicated as it may look.  I like to make the streusel topping first and set it aside.  Then I mix the dry ingredients together …. the wet ingredients together and combine.  What could be easier!
Happy baking!

ZUCCHINI STREUSEL BREAD
Stays very well for 4 to 5 days if wrapped and refrigerated.  Or this bread can be made ahead and frozen for up to 3 months.  

2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt, non-fat or full-fat
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini (about 2 large)
3 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional:  1 cup chopped walnuts, dried fruits

Preheat the oven to 375°.  This recipe will make two one pound loafs, one large 13 x 9 tray loaf or 24 muffins.  Grease and line whichever pans you’d like to use.

Grate the zucchini either by hand or with a food processor, then wrap the grated zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeeze out all the excess moisture.

In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sugars, vanilla, oil and yogurt.  When fully combined, fold in the grated, squeezed-dry zucchini.  A medium to coarse grating is perfect.

In another large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  If you are adding walnuts, dust with a little flour first to prevent them from sinking into the batter.

Quickly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined.  Don’t overmix.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s).  Bake at 375° for half the total baking time – 25 minutes for breads – 15 minutes for muffins.  At this half-way point, you’ll want to generously spread the streusel topping onto the bread(s), pressing down slightly.

STREUSEL TOPPING
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats (not instant)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick cold butter, cubed
Optional:  1/2 cup chopped nuts, chocolate chips, Reese’s pieces, brittle

In a bowl thoroughly mix together the dry ingredients and then cut in the cold, cubed butter until the mixture looks crumbly.  Set aside until ready to spread onto the bread batter.  

Finish baking until a tester inserted into the middle of the bake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan.

Now it’s time to put the kettle on and make that pot of tea.  When serving, there’s no need for butter, cream cheese or any other spread, this bread is moist, rich and delicious!  Have a second slice, you’ve earned it!!

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Where Have All the Tea Rooms Gone?

My first visit to a tea room was in London in 1986.  During that trip, I visited as many as I could, from the grand Afternoon Tea hotel experience to the simple, unassuming village repast.  I took what I learned and incorporated it into my business – serving tea to our guests.  They loved it.  And the business flourished.

My next visit to a tea room was in this country, ten years later (I had been busy, very busy).  What I didn’t realize, or perhaps had forgotten, was how much I had enjoyed afternoon tea.  It was relaxing … refreshing … and, yes, even rejuvenating.  I know.  I know.  It’s those three “r’s”, but it really was true.  Was it the tea, the rituals which surround tea, or was it the camaraderie  of being with like-minded friends, sharing food and an experience?  I’m not sure, but, from that moment on, I knew I had found my “happy place”.

An acquaintance soon became a good friend, especially after I found out she and her friends had formed a “tea club”.  Each month they would travel to a different tea room, as a group, and share in the tea experience.  Of course, that didn’t prevent any of them from visiting their local tea rooms at every opportunity.  Immediately, I became a proud member of the tea club.

TEA TIME Magazine

As a group, we’d do our research:  tea magazines, websites, chat groups, word-of-mouth.  We’d be there for the grand opening of the newest tea room, as well as always revisiting past favorites.  There were so many tea rooms to choose from.  We traveled all around New England and then up and down the East Coast.  If the distance was more than 100 miles, we would organize an entire weekend around one or two tea room visits.  The weekends always included staying at a local bed and breakfast, antique shopping and, of course, lots of good food.  Repeat tea room visits ended with our befriending the owners and their staff.  They now becoming “tea friends”.  Our group and tea family grew.

But, no more!

For years, we enjoyed these afternoon tea sojourns … until suddenly … we ran out of tea rooms!  At one time, we could choose from hundreds, now there are perhaps one or two.  I understand tea rooms are, in reality, a restaurant and restaurants are a hard business, a very hard business.  I understand the profit margins are very low.  I understand the owners want to retire.  I understand there’s no interest in the next generation to take over or start up a tea room.  I understand real estate is very expensive.  The reality is I have been a business owner … and I understand.  But, I don’t like it.

Wenham Tea House, Wenham, MA

Did you know tea rooms were the first “women owned” businesses in the U.S.?  At the turn of the century American hotels were mimicking their European counterparts by serving Afternoon Tea in their restaurants, but this was not something a woman could participate in without a male escort.  Unescorted women would not be served.

In the cities and the countryside enterprising women began realizing that women of all classes wanted the ability to socialize outside of the home together, without the required male escort.  They also knew that we were becoming a more mobile and motorized society.  Women in the villages and small towns began turning their front parlors, or shed, or back kitchen into an inviting area where they could serve road-weary travelers a hearty cuppa and something to go along with it.  In the city, middle class women opened their front parlors for other women to gather and enjoy each other’s company without the required ‘man by their side’.  The American tearoom was born.

Tea at Charters Towers, 1880, Courtesy of New Old Stock

These businesses were important.  This was the first opportunity women had to start their own businesses, earning an income, without leaving their homes.  By adding handicrafts and baked goods made by the townspeople, the tearoom also offered a means for others to earn money.  Tea rooms played an important role in our society, our culture and to women.  But now its 2018 and everything is changing.  Why?  Are we all so busy that we haven’t the time or the interest to support this traditional women-owned business?  Are we too sophisticated, or too jaded?  Do we have to be stimulated by something new all the time?  What has happened to the value and importance of traditions?

I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to support your local tea room … woman owned or not.  Small businesses are an important part of our heritage.  Do we really want every shop, restaurant, business in every town to look like the every other shop, restaurant or business?

There are a few tea rooms left around the New England area.  Not many.  I can’t recommend enough that you visit them.  Each is unique, wonderful and an experience you’ll always treasure.  Do it now before they too are gone forever!

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Tea Rooms to Visit in the Greater Boston area
FANCY THAT
WENHAM TEA HOUSE
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
THE TEA LEAF
THE DUNBAR TEA ROOM
HEATH’S TEA ROOM
COZY TEA CART

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The Culture Shift … Tea to Coffee

What is happening in Great Britain today?  Traditional tea rooms are on the decline while lattés, caramelattés, cappuchinos, mochachinos and espresso drinking cafés are on the upswing.  The new millenials would rather log on and slurp, than clink cups and sip.  Although people are living longer, older generation Brits just can’t seem to hold onto their dying traditions anymore.  The solid foundations are slipping away.  The special occasion “afternoon tea” may be as popular as ever, but the mid-morning, mid-day, early evening tea break is just about gone.

Starbucks Cafe
Now there appears to be a war between Caffé Nero, Starbucks and Costa.  Take away their signs and all the marketing materials, and quite honestly, they are impossible to tell apart.  No character.  No charm.  No unique identity.  They refer to themselves as “customer centric”?  What exactly does “customer centric” mean anyway?

They each use surveys to track the customer service experience.  Surveys from how the customers like the furniture, the music, the art, and most recently what was printed on the take-away cup.  What about a survey about how good the coffee or tea tastes?  I guess that’s no longer important.

costaWhen I go to one of these take-away cafes, I know I’m going to have to compromise on the quality of the tea that I’m about to order.  I love green tea, but I know it will be a teabag of questionable quality, steeped with water that is far too hot and, if I don’t tell them to please not put the teabag into the cup, it will definitely be oversteeped and bitter.  I will carry the cup, perhaps on a tray, back to a table, which may or may not be clean, slopping most of the tea over the top, only to find that there’s no chair available, and napkins are nowhere in sight.  (Sigh)

caffe neroAnd the media tells me everyone is so concerned about their calorie and sugar intake, yet many Brits now consume these beverages regularly.  Action on Sugar, which is a group of specialists concerned with sugar intake and its effects on health, analyzed 131 hot drinks and found Starbucks, Caffé Nero and Costa to be among the worst offenders.

At Starbucks a “White Chocolate Mocha Venti with Whipped Cream” has 18 teaspoons of sugar.  Now, if I’m ordering dessert at a restaurant, that might be okay, but … really … this is just a beverage?  All right, that might seem a bit extreme.  How about if we wanted one of their seasonal beverages, such as Starbuck’s seasonal Hot Mulled Fruit drinks?  Would you believe 25 TEASPOONS of sugar!   Or if you think a nice hot chai would warm you up, at Costa a Chai Latte has only 20 teaspoons of sugar.  ONLY 20 TEASPOONS!

Want to know how many teaspoons of sugar are in a steaming, hot cup of tea?  0  Oh, maybe I didn’t stress that enough …. 0!  If you want sugar, you can put it in yourself.  I dare you to add 20 teaspoons of sugar to your cuppa and see if you still want to drink it.

We might have to get into the cost of these highly-calorific beverages on another post, but, for now, just think of the calorie savings alone.  The lowly cup of tea has 0 fat and 0 calories.  You can still hold it in your hands.  It still warms you.  It tastes delicious.  It is very social.  What’s better than sharing a good pot of tea with friends?  And it costs pennies.

So c’mon Brits.  Don’t be like so many other countries and let your traditions slip away.  Does every shopping area need to look like every other shopping area and every café look like every other café?  Perhaps tearooms may not be the chic, savvy trend-setting places they once were, but what they always have provided is a hearty cuppa, for a reasonable cost, warming the hearts and hands of generations of Brits!

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References:  Independent, Nunwood, Action on Sugar, TEA & COFFEE magazine

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Whitby Lemon Buns

To set the mood for our upcoming U.K. trip (and because it’s a cold, rainy night … and because I LOVE lemon anything …) I decided to make Whitby Lemon Buns.  Lemons are so-o-o popular in British foods.  From lemonade to candied lemon peel, every part of the lemon is used or preserved. In baking, lemon curd is made by the gallon and is used in pies, tarts, buns and to spread on everything from toast to scones.

Lemons and their cousin, limes, originated in southeast Asia and were brought back to the U.K. along with all the other exotic and interesting spices now so very popular, including, of course,  “tea“. These citrus fruits were life saving for sailors and miners because they were known to prevent “scurvy”, a deadly disease which results from a deficiency in Vitamin C.

In the 1600’s, the East India Company published a handbook for use on its ships describing “scurvy” as a dietary deficiency and recommended a “cure” of “fresh food or, if not available, oranges, lemons, limes and tamarinds”.  Scurvy was such a problem for the English Navy, it  actually killed more sailors than the enemies did.  By the 1700’s, the Navy decreed “a fixed amount of lemon juice should be issued daily to all sailors after their fifth or sixth week afloat“.  Are you familiar with the term “limey“, well I think you now know where that nickname originated.

So now that we’ve learned why these small citrus fruits are so popular, I think it’s time to do some baking.

These “buns” or sweet rolls are believed to have originated in Whitby, a small seaside town on the east coast of England.  To be authentic, these buns should have a lemon curd filling.  I, on the other hand, decided to make my own candied lemon peel and added that instead.  I must say these are absolutely perfect … not too sweet, a hint of lemony goodness and the added touch of candied peel gives it  just a bit of lemony crunch.  Let me know what you think.

WHITBY LEMON BUNS

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon (1/2 for dough – 1/2 for glaze)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit or candied lemon peel … OR
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd*
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • lemon juice

 In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest.  In a small bowl warm the milk slightly (microwave is fine) and add the butter.  Stir until melted.

Mix the yeast with the warm water and one tablespoon sugar, then let it stand until it gets all frothy.  When this has happened, add this mixture to the dry ingredients.  Then add the milk mixture, the beaten egg and juice of one lemon.  Mix well.  This should be a soft dough.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Knead in the dried fruits or candied lemon peel.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough over and over to make sure the dough is oiled as well.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

 When the dough has doubled in size and is ready (it will hold a depressed fingerprint) tip it out onto your pastry board.

Roll the dough into a long roll and cut into 12 to 16 evenly sized pieces.

*If you are filling the rolls with lemon curd, roll each ball out flat with a rolling pin, place a small spoonful of lemon curd in the middle and then shape into a ball.  Pull tightly and make sure the bottom is sealed.

 If not using lemon curd, just roll each ball tightly and then place all the dough balls in a parchment lined baking tray.  They should just touch each other.

Cover again and let rise in a warm place for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size again.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg white and then bake for 12-15 mins or until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.


Make a simple glaze by mixing 1 cup confectioners sugar with the rest of the lemon juice.  Let the buns cool for a few minutes and then drizzle the glaze over.

Put the kettle on and Enjoy!

 

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CANDIED LEMON PEEL

  • lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup or cane sugar syrup
  • water

Remove the peel from the lemon(s).  Then with a s poon, remove as much of the pith as possible. Slice the peel into long, thin julienne strips.  Place the lemon strips into a small saucepan and just cover with water.  Bring to a boil.

Dump the boiling water out and replace with more water.  Bring to a boil again. Repeat at least four times.  This is the only way to remove the bitterness from the peel.  Drain the peel on a paper towel.

In the small saucepan add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons corn syrup or cane syrup. Bring to a boil, add the lemon peel and let it slowly boil until the peel is translucent.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

With a slotted spoon, take the peel out and put onto a sheet of waxed paper to cool.  This is extremely hot and shouldn’t be touched until it is completely cool.  When cool, put the candied peel into your recipe, or put into a tightly covered jar.  Should keep very well.

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References:   Food in 18th Century England,  Wikipedia,

When Life Gives You Lemons … Make Lemon Curd!

You thought I was going to say ‘lemonade’, didn’t you?  Nope!  When life gets complicated, stressful, unsettling and you need to withdraw into your own private space to reflect and relax, try making something.  Something a little different.  Something unique.  Something delicious!

For me, it’s been a very busy week, and I’ve been tugged in many different directions.  Today I need to meditate … in my kitchen … over the stove.  Classic Scones with Lemon Curd are going to be my method for decompressing.  C’mon along.  I hope you like them.

LEMON CURD
Preparation Time:  10 – 15 minutes                  Makes about:  1-1/2 cups

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large or 3 medium lemons)
1/2 cup sugar (more if sweeter curd is desired)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 extra large eggs (or 4 medium eggs) beaten
3/4 stick ice cold butter cubed

 Hint:  Zest the lemons before cutting them to squeeze out the lemon juice.  To get more juice from the lemons, pop them into a microwave oven for 10 seconds just to warm them through and them roll them on your cutting board. Two large lemons should produce enough zest and juice for this batch of curd – which will produce 1-1/2 cups.

In a heavy small saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest and beaten eggs.  Place the saucepan over medium to low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon while adding the cold, cubed butter. Continue stirring for about 5 or 6 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the curd thickens, coating the back of the spoon.

If you want a really smooth curd, you may want to sieve the curd t hrough a strainer to remove the lemon zest, and any coagulated bits.  I want to have all the zesty bits right in there, so I prefer not to.

Spoon the curd into a bowl or serving dish and cover with plastic wrap.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

 

You can also spoon the curd into small  mason jars,  put your label on the front, and decorate with a ribbon for a beautiful addition to any gift basket. Why spend $7.95 or more at the grocery store, when you can make your own delicious, creamy, lemony curd for just pennies.

(This curd will keep beautifully for at least a week.  Keep refrigerated.)

Now it’s time to make the scones!!

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The Classic Tea Sandwich

It’s August and my garden is overflowing with cucumbers.  Yes, I’ve made pickles.  I love half sour pickles …. absolutely delicious!  And we’ve been slicing and dicing them for salads for weeks. But today, in this hot, sticky weather, I have friends coming over for tea ….. the perfect time to make my favorite classic English tea sandwich ….. CUCUMBER!

Garden fresh cucumbers

Garden fresh cucumbers

If you’ve never had a classic cucumber sandwich, you’re in for a treat.  They are so easy to make …. light, delicate and refreshing …. ideal for a summertime treat. Just keep these few tips in mind and you’ll have the perfect tea sandwich:

1.  If you don’t have fresh cucumbers from your garden or farmer’s market, use English cucumbers, which are readily available in most supermarkets today.  English cucumbers have a much thinner and easier to digest skin than American-style cucumbers. Also the cucumbers we generally see in supermarkets have been dipped in wax to keep them from spoiling.  Yuck!

Thinly sliced English cucumbers.

Thinly sliced English cucumbers.

2.  Slice the cucumber thinly and either spread the slices on paper toweling, or put them in a colander and then lightly sprinkle with sea salt.  Leave them for about an hour.  This will remove the excess water and ensure a more crisp sandwich.

3.  Always butter the bread!  Don’t think about unnecessary calories …. think about not having soggy sandwiches!  The key to good tea sandwiches is to always lightly butter the bread.

CLASSIC CUCUMBER SANDWICHES
Makes 10 finger sandwiches

1 large cucumber
1 8 oz. pkg. good-quality cream cheese
softened butter
chopped parsley
Arnold’s Thinly Sliced White Bread

Lay out the bread (thin-sliced dense white bread is best) on the counter and spread both slices lightly with butter.  On one slice arrange the thinly-sliced cucumbers.  Depending upon how thinly you sliced them, you might use 4 to 6 slices.   On the other slice of bread , generously spread the cream cheese.  Put the two together and press firmly.  Now is when you either trim off the crusts or cut with a cookie cutter.  If using a cookie cutter, be sure it’s sharp, otherwise you’ll have slippage.

If you are having a tea party, to impress your guests, you can use two different types of bread – one white, one whole wheat.  You can also lightly spread the outside rim of your sandwiches with butter and dip the edges in the chopped parsley.  So pretty!

To make ahead, place the sandwiches in a plastic container covered with a very damp tea towel.  Cucumber Sandwiches .... easy and delicious!

Cucumber Sandwiches …. easy and delicious!